The BSSS Institute of Advanced Studies organized "Budget Blitz: Decoding the Union Budget 2023-24" on February 1, 2023, which commenced with the live budget by the honorable finance minister and concluded with thoughtful insights from renowned chartered accountants from all over India, in which the most engrossing part discussed was the Union Budget's vision of India becoming the global hub of millets. Well, what made India take such a step all of a sudden?
Millets have gained popularity in India due to recent measures taken by the government and rising health concerns. They are low on the glycemic index, which means they don't create spikes in blood glucose, and can reduce blood glucose levels by 12-15%. They also need less water, making them a perfect crop for drought-prone areas. Additionally, insect attacks on millets are less, which results in minimal use of pesticides. India is calorie-rich but micronutrient-poor, and millets provide the zinc and iron needed for growth and development.
The National Family Health Survey revealed that nearly 80% of Indians are missing these vital micronutrients, leading to the government pushing millets as a way to fix the nutrition problem before it gets too late. Millets were promoted by the government in 2018, from "coarse grains" associated with animal fodder to "nutria-cereals" that promise health benefits. Large corporations such as Tata, the Indian conglomerate, which purchased Kottaram Agro Foods in 2021, which makes millet-based breakfast cereals and snacks; and with the added benefit of TATA's vast distribution network, it can take this to every nook and cranny of India. Eventually other giants came up with ideas to promote millets, for example, ITC, which has its own FMCG line of products, has already promised to introduce millets into its noodles, atta, and biscuits. ITC have also come up with ideas to promote millets, but farmers are reluctant due to the cost and yield.
To promote millets among farmers, the government needs to take innovative measures to give them premium prices for their crops and market access. The big shift might still be some time away, but it is important to ensure India's nutritional intake is increased.
By- Jibin Kuriakose
MBA Ist Semester